Yes, that’s a tautology. However, tautologies have the merit of being true. Opposites are opposites, and because of that reality in which live, we are forced to recognize that entertaining two contradictory ideas becomes, what we call in English, “contradictory”. Opposites exist, and so do contradictions.
Sin can’t also be righteousness at the same time in the same way.
The universe can’t exist and not exist at the same time in the same way.
Sin and righteousness are opposites.
Existence and non-existence are opposites. They can’t cohabitate.
However, because God designed the universe and is the standard of the logical laws that govern, His creative decree (along with his character and nature) decide these realities for us.
And what we find is that God works one way usually.
Usually one road is right, and thus the other fork is wrong.
One direction is right, therefore, you may not head the other way.
However, there are times that pattern seems to be abandoned; there is a time when God places us in a position where we can’t go wrong. Both roads lead home. This is not to say God engages in the practice of contradicting Himself, but that we sometimes don’t see things rightly.
God created Adam, man, and He called it good. However, He did not say the woman was not good. If you’re a man that’s good. If you’re not, that’s good.
Male and female are opposites, yet both are good.
In the same way, another unique circumstance is placed upon us: singleness and marriage.
Marriage is good. It is encouraged. If you’re married, that’s good. But if you’re not, Paul says, that too is good.
Jesus is, paradoxically, the evidence of this. For Jesus, paradoxically, was both.
In Jesus, we see the power of singleness. Jesus came down with orders. He was sent down, not to do His own will, but the will of the One who did the sending (John 6:38). And we know after reading through all four Gospels that Jesus had no earthly marriage. He had no woman and therefore, in Bob Marley’s words, no cry. Jesus found that the best way to focus on the will of the Father and to accomplish His purpose was not to be distracted by marriage. I’m sure there are only about one thousand other reasons why Jesus never saw fit to take a wife, but one thing is for certain, it wasn’t the Father’s will and therefore would have distracted Jesus from His earthly ministry.
Thus, singleness is good. Jesus was single.
However, what was that mission He was commissioned to exactly? Ephesians 5 teaches He came for His wife:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Mark 2: 19-20
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”
Revelation 21: 2
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Revelation 21: 9
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
Jesus came to rescue and redeem His Wife. Jesus came and laid His life down for His bride, to cleanse Her and present Her glorious. This unmarried single Jesus, Who demonstrated the power of singleness in focusing and accomplishing the will of God, also shows us the beauty and goodness of a sacrificial marital union. Therefore to ask Jesus, “What’s good, to be married or single?” His answer would be and is “Yes.”
To steal an analogy from Douglas Wilson, imagine a hypothetical where God takes you back to creation and allows you to watch from balcony. And as you sit and marvel at what words can’t describe, and watch the universe at its genesis, imagine that when God marveled alongside you and said what we know He said, “it is good”, imagine you interrupted in that moment with the retort, “No it’s not.”
As it stands it is not permitted to tell God that which He determined to be good is actually not good. However, this can be done without a sex-change and without a time-travel hypothetical.
It has been the case for myself, as for many, to view singleness as a curse. One lives life wondering why others and not them. When my friends get married, they seem so happy, joyous, and full of life. It’s hard to be on the outside looking in. We not only endure wedding ceremonies that aren’t ours, but we RSVP with the “plus one” box left empty, and in that, we feel cursed. Perhaps cursed sounds dramatic: the idea being that we don’t think of singleness as good. We despise it in fact.
In other words, we look at our current single state and call it not good, but what did God say about it again?
I find myself dwelling on my mistakes of the past. I look deeply into the mirror of soul and see reflected there many broken relationships, mistakes and sins. From that, it is easy to commit the sin Job’s friends did and assume I deserve my unhappiness. I consider my singleness as punishment for my past and current mistakes.
It’s very easy to allow thoughts to tarry in our minds, ones that suggest a relationship is something I don’t deserve. I don’t deny the truth of that, I deny the implication of it that anyone does.
The point here is that my sin is not found in the sins of my past which were nailed to a cross to be cast off as far as the east is from the west. The sin is calling my singleness bad when God says otherwise (which is also well accounted for and forgotten).
Singleness is not a punishment, a curse, nor a reward; it’s a gift.
This is not to say single people must never marry. That would end civilization as well as swing the pendulum too far the other direction and essentially castigate marriage, sending her to the gallows.
When one finds oneself burning with passions that render self-control as more of a miraculous, spiritual gift and less of a universal Christian duty, then it is not good to be single. That kind of “not good” does not have a definition along the lines of “sin”, but rather one that reads closer to “danger”. That is a lifestyle characterized by danger. In a culture obsessed with sex (similar to Corinth), and among a people that are calloused to it, it is ever important to place ourselves in the Biblical arenas that God has ordained to be most helpful in this fight, and Paul says, to the church in Corinth, marriage is that arena. 1 Corinthians 7:9
But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
A current state of singleness is good, but that is not an indication of God’s calling to permanent singleness, and this principle can be abstracted from what Paul says about slavery. He explains the slave may remain a slave and not be concerned about that, however, he throws the caveat in that the slave who finds the opportunity to be free should avail themselves of the opportunity. Likewise, in current singleness, don’t be dismayed. Remain there, but, if the opportunity presents itself get your availing on. However, the availing is a side note, the thesis is verse 24: whatever condition we have been called to, remain there. We should continue our cruise control on whatever road we are on, unless we run into “road closed” and “detour” signs. And God will put them there, He has a way of accomplishing what His good will decides to accomplish (Job 42). And looking at biblical and world history, it seems as if God calls the vast majority of people to marriage.
Therefore, do not be dismayed. Rejoice in the gift you have been given. Whether that gift is in the form of a respectable husband, lovable wife, or Kingdom opportunities, rejoice and be glad. Pray for a content and satisfied heart.